How Incarcerated Podcasters are Shaping the Narrative on Prison Life

black and gray microphone with stand
Zain Murdock
February 8, 2024

In 2012, Bay Area journalists started bringing computers, audio equipment, and software to San Quentin Prison. In just a few years, the San Quentin chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was born, the first of its kind.

Classes expanded to Solano State Prison. Then came the Uncuffed podcast, attracting an international audience.

In recent episodes, the podcasters have discussed everything ranging from their favorite songs, thoughts on unappetizing prison food, processing grief behind bars, to what aging in prison is like.

Institutions like the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Washington Post have recognized podcasters and imprisoned journalists like those at Uncuffed. These podcasters and journalists deserve the acclaim. But, even more inspirationally, with hundreds of thousands of downloads, they’re educating and moving those inside and outside prisons. Imagine how many people their words could radicalize.  

And they’re only growing from here.

Incarcerated women, opportunities for the formerly incarcerated, and more incarcerated leadership are on the docket for Uncuffed next. As attempts to silence people in prisons and jails continue, their voices will only get louder.

Uncuffed’s Black podcasters are contributing to Black oral traditions. They are creating and documenting history. And hopefully, decades from now, listeners will hear what it was like to live in the kind of institution that no longer exists.

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